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Movie Review: Resident Evil – Extinction

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Movies are an objective experience, which the viewer enters as an observer, not a participant—requiring the establishing of characters with whom the audience can identify first, and through them feel the fear generated by whatever the threat happens to be… all of this is a roundabout way of getting to one of the reasons why RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION is the latest in the long string of features that fail to deliver the fear factor of their video-game inspirations. — Michael Gingold, Fangoria

After reading Michael Gingold's review of Resident Evil: Extinction, I knew I had to steel myself against another blistering disappointment in horror movie entertainment. I headed to the concession stand and bought my usual reviewer-comfort food: small Cherry Coke, check; box of Junior Mints, check. I then sat in the last row, far from the screen, symbolically distancing myself from this third installment in a series that has, so far, failed to capture the eeriness and gut-wrenching involvement of the video game it sprang from.

I was halfway through my box of Junior Mints, around the time when Alice — lithesome Milla Jovovich — was holding herself in her arms — her clone self, that is — that I realized kicking zombie butt can be fun to watch, even if the dialog, characters, and set pieces are uninspired to the point of lameness. Let's face it: the franchise keeps going only because Milla Jovovich is the prettiest and sexiest zombie butt-kicker on the screen today.

Ree01Dressed in short-shorts, boots and garters, and two really big, sharp Kukri knives that Jim Bowie would have been proud to own, she presents quite the picture of the fashionably dressed zombie slayer about town, or desert in this case. Unfortunately the T-Virus has spread well-beyond Raccoon City, and now the entire planet is screwed big time, as well as the dwindling bunch of ragtag survivors traveling in a convoy that also would have made Mad Max proud, too.

It all begins promisingly enough with the nefarious Umbrella Corporation still trying to convert the millions of zombies it helped create into domesticated companions, and trying to perfect their Alice — zombie butt-kicker extraordinaire — clone army (in case their domestication plans fail, I suppose). The original Alice is on the run, trying to avoid the Umbrella Corporation's equally nefarious and ubiquitous spy-satellites that still run while the rest of the planet doesn't: damn, those Duracell batteries are good.

After a brief warm-up with a Rob Zombie-styled redneck white trash family and their dead but eager dogs, Alice comes across a notebook that points to the promised, zombie-free land of Alaska. And you thought Alaska was only good for crab and salmon, didn't you? Of course, with 30 Days of Night soon to hit theaters, that would have made quite a tie-in, don't you think? Zombies and vampires going at it, and Alice kicking, hacking and slashing all the way. Yummy.

Back to reality. As Alice continues her trek across the now sandy reaches of a decimated Nevada, she hooks up with her old MySpace bunch of Raccoon City survivors, whose  caravan is in desperate need of food and fuel. Here's where the film gets mired in the usual hackneyed theatrics; that let's-check-out-the-"deserted hotel," all two of us, and make sure to get bitten by a zombie while you're distracted, so you can ignore the impending danger — no one will notice you turning green and attracting flies — and turn into a dead flesh-muncher at a really critical time to screw things up kind of usual.

What's not so usual is Alice's newfound X-Men-like telekinetic ability which sure comes in handy when she remembers to use it, and, hey, what's with those cloudy-eyed birds that have been eating nothing but zombie carrion – oh, sh*t! Run! Just when you think director Russell (Zen in the Art of Killing Vampires) Mulcahy and writer Paul (Castlevania) Anderson are blindly going through the zombie-shuffle, that Hitchcockian interlude with predatory zombie birds is a hair-raising thrill a minute, especially when Alice shows up to save the day.

But things go back to status quo when Alice and the survivors pull up in a desolate Las Vegas, only to get caught unawares by dozens of ravenous zombies dressed as Mr. Goodwrench by the Umbrella Corporation. While I sat wondering how they got all those uncontrollable zombies dressed in overalls, Alice battled them and the corporation's attempt at mind control.

Her friends didn't fare too well while she struggled with that one, but it does send her, very pissed, back to kick Umbrella Corp's butt, and square off against the evil scientist who tried to capture her. He, of course, is now mutated into the usual BIG and UGLY, possibly dead, creature with evil intentions. Oh, and she runs into her clones. Lots of them. In fact, that's the best part of the film: the ending. I hope it sets up the fourth installment. If it does, it'll be a knockout.

All in all, spending some time with Milla Jovovich is always enjoyable. While the make-up on the zombies is cursory, and the action sequences needed more kick (as Gingold points out, the Las Vegas locale isn't used well at all), this installment in the franchise is more enjoyable than the lackluster Resident Evil: Apocalypse. So I didn't really need to fall back on my Junior Mints and Cherry Coke much.

Disclaimer: We apologize for this reviewer's apparent lack of professional interest in any of the other actors, like Oded Fehr (who does a wonderful scene with a lit cigarette, a fuse, and groping zombies), in this film. While we agree that Milla Jovovich is an eyeful, it is important to recognize the talents of those supporting victims and zombies that made her look so good. Had we taken our eyes off of Jovovich, we'd be able to name them ourselves. We did notice Ashanti. She looked lovely, too.

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